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Rocketman (dir. Fletcher)

Image: Taron Egerton as Elton John © Photography by David Appleby. Owned by Paramount Pictures [Source: IMDB]

★★★☆☆

Following the relatable and down to earth story of Elton John from his boyhood to his formative years right up to his breakthrough and beyond. This musical fantasy stars Taron Egerton as John and even sings the tracks himself.

Director: Dexter Fletcher. Starring: Taron Egerton, Richard Madden, Bryce Dallas Howard, Stephen Graham, Jamie Bell [15]

The first thing that should be made absolutely clear and I hope if there is one thing that is taken from this film and remembered for. Is Taron Egerton is flawless, absolutely sensational and transformative as Elton John where it’s hard to imagine anyone else even doing the part any justice what so ever in the face of what Egerton achieves. If he is not nominated when the Oscars roll around it will be a crying shame. The only way this performance lacks is in what scenes he is left to play.

The choice in focusing this into a musical, while is interesting and certainly gets across the energy and vibe of ‘Elton John’. I do believe that the writing and direction have sadly used the musical elements to lean on and allow their storytelling and characters to become lax. What I mean by this is that a great deal of character building and perhaps defining moments in Elton John’s life and psyche are often quite literally glossed over with big larger than life dance routines, with backing dancers and the works. With character left at the door while the film dazzles you with music and spectacle, it’s a crying shame as unlike a film such as La La Land to which the songs and the “musical” parts facilitated the story and used the context of the drama to play into the songs which reinforced the drama.

Here, unfortunately, the songs are nothing for than the biggest hits and aside from perhaps matching tone they do little in the way of adding context to when they were written, what they were about and influence the drama we are seeing unfold. But still, they are incredibly sung and performed none the less by Egerton and the other cast members and a few exceptions to my previous statement they do add to the drama going on at that stage of the film. Even using them to show the passage of time and cleverly play out weeks/months of relationships to the beat of a song.

As clever as it may be, however, this does also aid the pantomime tone that simmers under the drama until being full on teleplay by the end and instead of allowing transformation to be shown through performances and drama or even the context of Elton’s discography. The direction instead wincingly has talking heads explain to the audience Elton’s pain and recovery from said pain. While the film doesn’t quite take off, one person who will surely be on a galactic level from his astronomical performance is Taron Egerton and is absolutely worth going to see yourself, if not just to get an insight into the incredibly interesting life that Elton John has lived.

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